Mayoral candidate Ari Goldkind is getting his head around fundraising.
“I have this failing of asking people for money,” said Goldkind, on lunch break from a case he’s arguing at Old City Hall Court Sept. 15.
“I guess it’s part of my personality not to ask people for help.”
Goldkind is starting to think differently. As one of 64 candidates for mayor in the 2014 municipal election, the 40-year old criminal lawyer has spent most of the campaign this year campaigning from the fringe.
While he received small amounts of attention early in the campaign, putting forward a unique platform that proposes higher property taxes and a big increase on the land transfer tax for $1.1 million-and-higher homes, Goldkind has spent his time since politely trying to generate interest in his small campaign unfurling in the better-known shadows of John Tory, Olivia Chow and Mayor Rob Ford.
It is unclear how much support Goldkind has garnered over that time: he has charted so low on the public’s radar that almost no pollsters have bothered to ask.
But on Sunday, two days after Rob Ford left the race for mayor for medical reasons and his brother Doug Ford signed on — and just five days after David Soknacki rolled up his campaign for lack of support — Goldkind found himself onstage at the Brick Works, debating just Tory and Chow.
By all reports, he played rough: rough enough for the John Tory campaign to tweet out a suggestion that his “cheap shots” at Tory during the debate was a sign that fringe candidates ought to be “excluded.”
That tweet linked to a video, in which Goldkind chastised both Chow and Tory for not adequately describing funding mechanisms for their transit plans.
“It was anything but (a cheap shot),” said Goldkind, not really complaining about the tweet.
“Not only that, it wasn’t even received in the room that way, and there was truth to it. You ask Mr. Tory a question about anything that involves holding to account — he answers, ‘Well, I have Smart Track’ (his plan to run subway-like service on existing and new surface rail lines). And that isn’t good enough for voters. I pointed out there’s a reason why they call his plan a scheme.”
Having attracted even relatively minor ire from the Tory campaign is, of course, a good thing for Goldkind, and he knows it.
He noted that his performance in the debate attracted the attention of journalists in attendance and also seemed to impress the crowd.
Running a bargain-basement campaign and without a great deal of public profile, he is hoping that he can convince other debate organizers to put him on the roster based on that performance. So far, he has been having little luck.
“My destiny literally lies in the hands of 10 to 15 debate organizers all throughout the city who keep saying no to me,” he said.
“Every time I get the chance to be in front of people and present them a very different path from the career politicians who have delivered zero results, people respond. I could either spend $250,000 that I don’t have or $2 million that I don’t have, to get my name in front of people, to get name recognition, or to use the term, ‘chart,’ or I can simply get in front of people.”
Or, Goldkind might simply fundraise. He said that initially, he held a small fundraiser to get things going and has sent out “two” tweets asking interested parties to send in $5. But that’s been about it.
“There was probably a part of me that didn’t feel comfortable saying to people, ‘Could you donate to me?’ until I knew I was given a shot to play in the big leagues. I think I’ve demonstrated I’m in the big leagues now, and I’ll stay in the big leagues if 10-15 people say hey, he will elevate our debates, they will be better debates and he will change the debate,” said Goldkind.
Ironically, if Goldkind starts now he won’t be too far behind Doug Ford, who because of election law will have to start fundraising anew for his mayoralty campaign, as he cannot legally use any money garnered from his brother Rob’s campaign that has been underway since January.
“I think I’m going to start making quiet approaches to people,” said Goldkind. “I don’t think I’m going to have a Gold Fest. Or maybe I should. Gold Fest for people who care about the city.”